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Killing the Buddha

Is SoJo a No-Go on LGBTQ Equality?

Becky Garrison

An online firestorm began over Mother’s Day weekend when the Rev. Robert Chase, founding director of Intersections, penned an article for Religion Dispatches documenting Sojourners’ rejection of an ad from Believe Out Loud that advocated full equality of LGBTQ people in the church. On the God’s Politics blog, Jim Wallis justified Sojourners’ decision not to run the ad on the grounds that “LGBTQ issues may not be our primary calling as our work against poverty and hunger, and for peace.”

Influential blogger John Shore reflects on how Sojourners‘ refusal to air this ad goes directly against their diversity statement, as well as effectively dismantling Wallis’ justification for rejecting the ad.

Andrew Marin, Founder of Love Is an Orientation,observed that so far no one on the God’s Politics blog list of contributors has spoken out against this decision, with the possible exception of yours truly. For the record, I oppose this decision for the reasons cited by Shore.

Brian McLaren, who served on the Board of Directors for Sojourners, delivers this nugget of advice regarding Sojourners and the issue of “homosexuality”:

[A]ppreciate Sojourners for their important, irreplaceable work on building a coalition of Christians who care deeply about poverty. And look to others to take the lead on human rights and full inclusion of LGBTQ people, at least for the immediate future.

Also, God’s Politics blogger Nadia Bolz-Weber addresses the struggle—between pastoring a queer-friendly church and her decision to stand with Sojourners—noting she hopes she can enact change by working from within the organization.

In other LGBTQ-religious news this week, the Presbyterian Church (USA) followed the lead of the US Episcopal Church by voting in favor of ordaining gay and lesbian ministers and lay leaders. The question remains as to whether or not progressive Christians will join forces with those denominations who wish to imitate Jesus by standing in solidarity with all those who are marginalized, or if they will take the more financially-viable route by building bridges with more conservative Christian organizations.

While I was told by Tim King, the communications director at Sojourners, that placating funders was not a priority in this decision, a quick overview of the Christian conference circuit makes it crystal clear that far more money is to be had if one chooses to play in the more moderate and conservative streams of evangelical Christianity.

Sarah Posner over at Religion Dispatches offers the most comprehensive coverage of this debate for those looking to follow this ongoing saga.

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Becky Garrison is a panelist for The Washington Post's On Faith and a contributor to the Guardian, among other publications. Her books include Jesus Died for This? A Satirist's Search for the Risen Christ (Zondervan, August, 2010) and Starting from Zero with $0: Building Mission-Shaped Ministries on a Shoestring (Seabury Press, September 2010).

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